10 Minutes of Motivation Research

Daniel Pink shared this animated whiteboard video explaining some of the research and ideas from his book Drive.

Pink’s ideas have been applied to learning by others, but the basic idea is that for all but the simplest tasks, people aren’t motivated well by big monetary rewards. What rewards people is autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

This, of course, has implications for instructional design. When we create lockstep learning, we are removing autonomy. When we create learning experiences where the content is distanced from context and seems irrelevant to learners, we don’t take advantage of the motivation of purpose. Learning itself is a form of mastery, but we disguise it sometimes.

The research Pink shares in his book reinforces the idea of lifelong learning. We keep learning even when we aren’t being paid because learning itself is intrinsically motivating. The bigger question is how do we support that lifelong learning, providing people with the tools and coaching to be self-directed learners?

11 thoughts on “10 Minutes of Motivation Research

  1. Great information, very valuable. Curious about your views on the cognitive load imposed by the prezi itself. At first I thought the animation was very clever and fun but then I felt that it took quite a bit of energy to focus on what the speaker was saying and what he was drawing at the same time.

    • By cognitive load theory, the words on the whiteboard and the voiceover did overlap too much. It violates the principle of not having redundant on-screen text from Clark & Meyer’s research shared in e-Learning and the Science of Instruction.

      This is a really common animation style right now though; it’s in lots of commercials. Pay attention to the ads and you see this quite a bit, sometimes with just short phrases, but sometimes with full sentences. I usually think of big budget marketing having done the research to know what’s effective, so I wonder what they’ve found? I think the images alone would have been a better choice for visuals for learning purposes. But maybe the marketers know something we don’t. Is that on-screen text more persuasive somehow? Is it better at changing opinions or getting people to act? Is it better for brand recognition?

      Interesting questions about another interesting research topic!

      • It amounts to two things I think:

        1) Another information channel
        2) An attention-holding device

        Probably works just fine.

        There’s a St. Louis company xplane.com that had started out marketing what the founder called “visual thinking” — the illustrations were all pictures. Pretty quickly he added text: abstract concepts don’t have obvious visualizations. Pictures are VERY good at showing relationships among concrete concepts, but are very bad at

  2. grumble.

    unambiguously communicating abstract qualities. Of course, words are more ambiguous than we like to admit…

  3. Thank you for touching on the redundancy…despite the creativity and attractiveness of the graphics, I did find myself paying more attention to the graphics than the speaker. Do you find that the life long learner is ignored at times? Possibly that we spend more time presenting information or teaching in the present, not considering those tools or coaching techniques?

    • The idea of lifelong learning is often ignored within the world of formal education. At the K-12 level, so much of the focus is on test preparation. Standardized tests are antithetical to lifelong learning skills.

      In the corporate training world, the trend towards supporting informal learning is promising. If we continue to see emphasize on informal learning at the corporate level, maybe we’ll see more focus on helping students “learn to learn” at in education.

  4. Christy,

    As someone who is easing his way into Instructional Design, your question raised a host of questions in return. You asked “…how do we support that lifelong learning, providing people with the tools and coaching to be self-directed learners?” The answer that occurs to me is that teaching metacognition could be taught the same as any other skill: provide modeling, practice and feedback (Rosenthal & Zimmerman, 1978) for metacognition either as its own lesson or incorporated into the subject matter presentation.

    The big question I found myself asking was: Based on your experience, is it really a challenge to design eLearning lessons with opportunities to encourage and support metacognition?

    I will be the first to admit that so far I haven’t, and that I suspect it is a real challenge. So far I’ve had the opportunity to provide corporate training, producing short videos demonstrating how to do a particular task in a particular application. Your question had me considering the hurdles involved in incorporating metacognition training into the task training. The first challenge is that we assume that the learners won’t appreciate questions like, “Can you think of other examples?” or “Can you apply this elsewhere?” because the learner just wants the facts.

    Another challenge is justifying the ROI of teaching metacognition. “Yeah, these question are off task, and yeah, inviting feedback and dialog would require additional resources, but in the long run we’re developing better learners.” I think that would be a short meeting. It is my impression that few HR departments have the budget to support the development of employee lifelong learning habits.

    Are these the real challenges? Or is it that teaching self-directed learning requires a social environment beyond what eLearning (or mLearning) can currently simulate? Or is it simply a bad habit on the part of instructional designers not to include tools and coaching to support self-directed learning?

    Thanks,
    - Patrick

    Reference
    Rosenthal, T. L., & Zimmerman, B. J., (1978). Social learning and cognition. New York: Academic Press.

  5. Regarding the question at the end of your post:

    I don’t think we need to support lifelong learning – learning is a basic drive that our current educational & business models systematically suppress. Recognizing the universal drive to learn, what we need to focus on is dismantling the impediments to learning.

  6. Until we allow adult learners to work as education partners with their departments and instructors, we will not realize the power of e-learning. The constraint for this is the need for meeting accreditation expectations that are motivated by control at the federal level. I do not believe I will see personal educational autonomy in my lifetime, yet I’m hopeful.

  7. The topic is important, the information in it is valuable and the way it was presented EXCELLENT and MOTIVATING to hold on till the end

  8. Pingback: How to Stay Motivated - Pete101.com - Pete101.com

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